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March 2010

On The Road to a Virtual Voyage!

I figured a  “Throwback Thursday” would be a most appropriate time to wax nostalgic and invite you to join me on my next virtual vacation!  This weekend I will set off on a wondrous adventure “across the pond”  touring southern England!  As if that weren’t fabulous enough, I’m traveling with my daughter Sara, just the two of us, as her graduation gift before she heads off to college next month! 

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  During my 25+ years at ABC7, many of you have watched Sara grow up over the years - here’s the nostalgic part - and during that time she has become an incredible traveler! 








She took her first cruise before she was 2 - at 4, she was climbing pyramids in Mexico!

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At 6, Sara accompanied me and my Mom on a trip to Spain - 3 generations in our mother country! At 10, Sara was sightseeing through ancient Greece; at 12 she experienced the glaciers of Alaska!

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                         Alaska july 26 to aug 5 2008 146 (2)


I took her to President Obama’s first inauguration - we explored the holy land together with members of our congregation.

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I chaperoned a high school choir trip to Ireland, and back in the states we took road trips to our national parks and the entire stretch of Rt. 66!  Sara’s 18th birthday with a destination party to the “Happiest Place on Earth!”

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I now invite you to join us on our next adventure, as I share our discoveries in London and many other historic places in the UK.  We arrive at Heathrow Airport Monday August 4th; posts on Facebook and Twitter soon to follow!  As this is an “interactive vacation,” feel free to make suggestions, ask questions or give advice - this is the first time in the UK for both of us!

 https://www.facebook.com/RozVaronABC7   https://twitter.com/rozvaronABC7 

One more thing - a heartfelt thanks to my incredibly understanding husband for giving Sara and I this special bonding time while he stays at home.  Besides, someone has to watch the dogs, right?!


Bon Voyage!




On The Road to Overnight Lane Closures on the Bishop Ford

Bishop Ford closures 3-23-10 

They're back!!  Just when you thought the work on the Bishop Ford was done, those dreaded construction signs reappear, warning unsuspecting motorists of upcoming lane closures.  Take a breath, it's not going to be that bad!  Beginning March 24th and continuing until late spring, there will be OVERNIGHT lane closures on the Ford from 159th to King Drive.  It's basically punch list stuff from last year's resurfacing project...finishing some guard rail work, installing reflectors in the road and putting in rumble strips.  Piece of cake, right?!

After Memorial Day, though, crews WILL have 24 hour lane closures on the Bishop Ford between Sibley and 159th.  This is to allow crews to lay an anti-icing coating on two bridge decks in that area.  This epoxy overlay will help keep the bridges free of ice, making the roadway much safer in the winter months.  According to IDOT, this should only take a few weeks, but the materials are both temperature and moisture sensitive, so they need warm, dry weather to finish the job.  Let's hope for smooth sailing on the Ford Freeway by July!


On the Road to I-290 detours!

 Ike construction 3-19-10 002

I already have my detours picked out!  If you are one of the hundreds of thousands of motorists who travel on the Eisenhower Expressway / I-290 extension, I strongly recommend you do the same.  On April IDOT will begin a $13.2 million dollar resurfacing and repair job over 27 miles of I-290 from the Circle Interchange (at I-94) out west to Thorndale Avenue in Itasca.

During the first phase of the project, crews will tackle repairs to 37 bridge structures. This work will include replacing bridge joints and putting new decks on many of the bridges. As you can imagine, this will require permanent lane closures throughout the entire length of the project.  On April 1st, the right lane will close in each direction.  As bridge work is completed, traffic will be shifted, the right lane will open and the left lane will close.  There will be several shifts during the bridge repairs, but only one lane will be closed in each direction during daytime hours. 

Bridge work on the east half of repair zone, through Chicago is scheduled for completion by the end of June.  At that point, crews will begin resurfacing the pavement. The good news for motorists is, all lanes will be reopened and the resurfacing work will be done at night!

Bridge work on the west half (the I-290 extension to Thorndale) is more complex and won't be done until the end of August, but similarly, all lanes will open and crews will resurface during the nighttime hours.

Exit and Entrance ramps will also be resurfaced, again, during nighttime hours, and no 2 consecutive ramps will close at the same time. The entire project is scheduled for completion October 31, 2010.

You can follow the progress of the project and get more detailed information on IDOT's web site: http://www.dot.il.gov/I290/index.html

If you've been paying attention, right about now you're asking yourself, isn't the Congress Bridge work supposed to start on April 1st as well?  Right you are!  And just for kicks, the Lower Wacker Drive ramps to and from the Eisenhower close on April 1st too - no foolin'! 

I'm thinking the closures on the Congress Bridge (lanes reduced to two inbound and only ONE outbound) will cause a much bigger problem than the one lane reduction each way on the Ike/290 extension.

A couple of suggestions:  if at all possible, use public transportation.  You have many choices out west, from the CTA Blue or Green lines to Metra's UP West line, Milwaukee District West line, or even the BNSF.

If you public transportation is not an option, you may want to consider either the Kennedy or Stevenson expressways.  Roosevelt Road is one of the only east/west routes that continues into the suburbs, but you've got to figure a lot of other people will be using that as a detour.  If your commute doesn't take you too far out of the city and you know your way around, I'm sure you've already figured out a couple of alternate routes.  What's that, you say?  What is my detour?  Keep checking my blog...after construction starts, if it's not too crowded, I'll share one of my secret shortcuts with you!

Happy motoring!


On The Road to Tollway Construction

You can't say I didn't warn you!  I'll try to be gentle and not bombard you with the myriad of construction projects we'll be faced with this year...just enough to keep it interesting! 

That being said, today I'll focus on the Resurfacing & Bridge Repair Project on I-355, The Veterans Memorial Tollway.  Beginning April 5th crews will begin work on 18 miles I-355.  You may be thinking, wait a minute...didn't they just resurface, and add a lane between 75th and Odgen over the past 2 years?  Yes, they did, but this year, they'll be working on either side of that new pavement!  Pavement repairs will be made on various lanes between I-55 (the Stevenson Expressway) and 83rd St.  Then, crews will resurface the stretch between 83rd and 75th, and the long stretch between Ogden and Army Trail.  *This will coincide with IDOT's resurfacing of the I-290 extension from Army Trail to Thorndale.   Still with me?  Good!  Let's continue!

Also as part of this project, 44 bridge structures will be repaired, including the big fly-over ramps at the I-88 interchange.  Noise abatement walls are supposed to go in at the nearby Butterfield Road interchange, to help reduce noise in the residential area bordering the tollway.

The good news for motorists is during construction, 3 lanes of traffic (what is there now) will remain open in each direction.  The bad news is, there will be traffic cross-over lanes in the work zone...those always cause congestion.  Back to the good news again - this is a one year project with a scheduled completion date of October 31st.

For those of you who drive I-355 regularly, you may be asking why a fairly new road (20 years old this year) that is in pretty good shape needs to be resurfaced right now.  The answer, according to the Tollway, is that by resurfacing now, before it's in really bad shape, they can extend the life of the entire structure so they don't have to do a complete reconstruction that would be more costly, more time consuming and create more headaches for drivers.

If you'd like more details on the I-355 project, check out the Tollway's web site at www.illinoistollway.com or  Download 355 Resurface Fact Sheet_3-12-10.



On The Road To Construction!

You know the old saying - there are only 2 seasons in Chicago - winter and construction!  We are about to enter one heck of a construction season, especially for those of us traveling to and from the western suburbs.  My promise to you, is to keep you as updated as possible on four major projects that are about to get underway.

Let's start with one that will impact both downtown drivers, as well as those traveling into the city from the west - the rehabilitation of the Congress Bridge over the Chicago River.  This is the beginning, or the end of the Eisenhower Expressway, depending on which way you're traveling.  Beginning on April 1st, IDOT will begin a 2 year project to make major repairs to the 53 year old bascule bridge (lift bridge over water).

This year, the eastbound, or inbound side will close and traffic will shift to the westbound or outbound lanes.  Traffic will be reduced to only two lanes inbound and one lane outbound!  Let me say that again - only two lanes inbound and only one lane outbound!!   150-thousand vehicles pass over that bridge each day - as you can imagine, this type of pinch point is sure to create traffic havoc!

In conjunction with this closure, the ramps to and from the Eisenhower to lower Wacker will be closed!

IDOT has its hands full trying to detour traffic around this project.  Truck traffic has to use routes with enough clearance, vehicular traffic needs to stay on a designated route so as not to completely disrupt residential areas.

The official, and posted detour will be to use exit the inbound Ike at Sacramento and use Roosevelt Road to the south or Warren/Washington to the north into the downtown area.  Outbound traffic should take Michigan Avenue to Roosevelt Road west, to Sacramento to the outbound Ike.

To make things more challenging, the ramp from the Inbound Kennedy to Eastbound Congress Parkway will be closed - motorists will have to exit at Ohio instead.  The ramp from the Inbound Dan Ryan to Eastbound Congress Parkway will also be closed.  Drivers will be directed to the Inbound Stevenson ramp to Northbound Lake Shore Drive to get to downtown.  Are you still with me?!

This work will continue until late fall.  It picks up again in spring of 2011 to late fall of 2011 when the westbound lanes of the bridge will close and traffic, again will be reduced to 2 inbound and one outbound lane on the newly repaired eastbound bridge.

I don't want to pile too much on your plate, but at the same time the Congress Bridge is being repaired, IDOT will start a one year resurfacing project of the entire Eisenhower Expressway, including the I-290 extension to Thorndale.  The City will begin preliminary work on the reconstruction of Wacker Drive from Randolph to Congress, and last, but not least, the Tollway will begin a one year, 18 mile resurfacing and bridge repair project of I-355, the Veterans Memorial Tollway  from I-55 to Army Trail Road!!

As we get closer to that magical April 1st start date, I'll lay out the details of the other projects.  If you'd like more info right now, here is a link to the Congress Bridge project.


Happy Motoring!